Arranged Marriage vs Forced Marriage: Everything You Need to Know

Interested to know the difference between an arranged marriage and a forced marriage so you can identify it better? Discover the signs to look out for, right here…

Arranged marriages are not the same as forced marriages. In an arranged marriage, both parties always give their consent but, in a forced marriage, victims are coerced into a marriage that they do not want. They also often suffer physical and mental abuse in the process.

Distinguishing between the two types of marriage is really important. Forcing a marriage is a criminal offence, requiring a Forced Marriage Protection Order to protect the victim. Getting the two confused can promote a negative image of certain cultures and countries who practice arranged marriage.

There are no ‘typical’ victims of forced marriage. That said, there are a number of signs that can indicate that someone is at risk of a forced marriage, or is already in one. With this in mind, to discover the differences between these two controversial marriages so you can better spot them, read on…

A picture containing person, front, looking, person

Description automatically generated

What are the Differences Between a Forced Marriage and an Arranged Marriage?

It is important to understand the differences between a forced marriage and an arranged marriage. Not only will this avoid wires getting crossed between culture and abuse, you may be able to better spot it…

Arranged Marriages

An arranged marriage is where a family find a marriage partner for their son or daughter, but the marriage is entered into willingly. Both parties have the option to choose whether or not to enter into the marriage, although it is generally believed that parents know what is best for their children in the long run.

In arranged marriages, parents will look for a partner for their son or daughter who has a good family, good career prospects, and the same religion and values; someone who will ultimately make their child happy. That’s not to say that all arranged marriages end in happiness. For children who refuse to marry their chosen partner, they are often shamed and cut off from their family.

Forced Marriages

A forced marriage, on the other hand, is one in which either one or both parties do not consent. This could be because the person is too young, they have a learning disability which prevents them from making an informed decision, they have a physical disability, or because they simply don’t want to. 

Forced marriage is illegal in the UK, and victims are often coerced into marrying through physical, psychological, sexual or financial abuse. Some victims are sometimes unaware of the situation, and are then drugged or kidnapped so that they can’t escape and are forced to go through with the marriage.

A person posing for the camera

Description automatically generated

Who is Most at Risk of Forced Marriage?

There is no ‘typical’ victim of a forced marriage. It can happen to anyone from any background. It can affect both men and women who are usually aged between 13 and 30. It is also not a problem specific to one culture or country. 

According to the latest statistics from the government’s Forced Marriage Unit (FMU), in 2019 they handled 1,355 cases related to a possible forced marriage. These related to 66 different countries, excluding the UK. The most frequently encountered countries were:

  • Pakistan
  • Bangladesh
  • India
  • Afghanistan
  • Somalia
  • Iraq
  • Romania

This could be the country in which the forced marriage is due to take place, or has already taken place. It could also be the country in which the spouse is currently living. There were 72 cases reported in the UK in 2019. Of these cases the FMU handled in 2019;

  • 27 percent involved victims below 18 years of age
  • 36 percent involved victims aged 18-25 years of age
  • 10 percent involved victims with learning disabilities
  • 80 percent involved female victims
  • 19 percent involved male victims

These are the reported cases only. The full scale of the problem in the UK, and other related countries, is unknown, as many cases go unreported. Because fo this, the government introduced lifelong anonymity to forced marriage victims in 2017, to encourage more people to come forward.

Why Do Forced Marriages Happen?

There are a varied number of reasons for forced marriage, many of these reasons relating to family honour. Some of the most typical reasons this might occur include:

  • Parents reacting to social pressure from friends or older relatives to marry off their children;
  • Parents believing that their children’s behaviour is starting to disgrace the family honour;
  • If a child reveals that they have been raped or sexually abused, the parents may force them to marry to restore the family honour;
  • Retaining wealth and property in the family;
  • Marrying children into a wealthy family to reduce poverty and pay off debts;
  • Marrying children with physical or learning disabilities so that they are taken care of;
  • Forcing children to marry to cover up their true sexual identity, e.g. lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
A picture containing person, building, person, sitting

Description automatically generated

What Does the Law Say About Forced Marriages?

Forced marriage has been illegal in the UK since 2014, under the Anti-Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act. Because of this, it is now a criminal offence to:

  • Take someone overseas to force them to marry (whether or not the marriage actually takes place)
  • Marry someone who lacks the mental capacity to consent to the marriage (whether they are coerced or not)

Committing this offence can result in imprisonment for up to seven years.

In 2008, under the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, the government introduced Forced Marriage Protection Orders in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to protect victims who are being forced into a marriage or who are already in a forced marriage. Anyone who breaches this Order is committing a criminal offence, and it can result in imprisonment for up to five years.

How to Spot the Signs of a Forced Marriage

Now that we know more details about what exactly forced marriage entails, and who is most at risk, spotting the signs is crucial. Here are some of the things you can look out for in others that may signal a forced marriage, both before and after the marriage has taken place:

  • Parents removing a child from education of from participating in extra-curricular activities for no reason;
  • High levels of absenteeism from school, college or work;
  • The victim may come from a community where ‘honour’ is culturally embedded;
  • An engagement announcement between the victim and a stranger not previously mentioned;
  • Changes to the victim’s personality e.g. they may appear depressed, anxious or withdrawn, and their appearance may deteriorate;
  • The victim may go missing or have a fear of returning home;
  • The victim may talk about a family holiday abroad with trepidation;
  • The victim may go abroad and not return home;
  • The victim’s family may regularly check up on them when they’re not home via phone, emails or text messages;
  • Incidents of crime or domestic disturbances at the victim’s home;
  • The victim may not have any control over their own life e.g. they may not be allowed a phone, money or access to the internet;
  • The victim may show signs of self-harm or even attempt suicide;
  • The victim may experience an unwanted pregnancy or a pregnancy very early in their marriage;
  • The victim may have their passport or other legal documents taken away from them so that they can’t leave.
A picture containing sitting, metal, piece, covered

Description automatically generated

What Should You do if You Think That you or Someone Else is at Risk of a Forced Marriage?

There is lots of help out there from the government and domestic abuse charities, such as Refuge, Karma Nirvana and the Halo Project, who can give you advice. If you believe you or someone you know is in immediate danger, always call 999.

The Forced Marriage Unit can also help you or someone you know. Just be sure to have as many details as possible ready before getting in touch, including:

  • Name (you or the person you are calling about)
  • Address (you or the person you are calling about)
  • Details of why you are concerned about your own or someone else’s safety
  • Any details about where you or another person is being forced to go or has gone

If you’re not comfortable calling any of these helplines, or you’re not able to, try speaking to someone you trust. This could be a friend, co-worker, or even your GP.

Getting a Forced Marriage Protection Order

If you’re being forced into marriage, are unable to leave a forced marriage, or someone you know is in this boat, there are legal avenues you can take. Applying to the court for a Forced Marriage Protection Order is the main pathway to look into.

The order is designed to protect victims of forced marriage based on their individual circumstances. For example, the court can stop someone from approaching you or threatening you, and can even order someone to hand over your passport so that they cannot force you to travel abroad.

It is also possible to get an emergency order to protect you or someone you know immediately. This does not require the involvement of the person you’re making the order against.

If you’re concerned that you are about to be taken abroad to be married against your will, then contact the Forced Marriage Protection Unit. Or, if you are already abroad, contact your nearest British Embassy. You can also do this on behalf of someone else.

A hand holding a cellphone

Description automatically generated

Get Help and Support About a Forced Marriage

As mentioned above, if you or someone you know is in immediate danger, call 999 straight away.

Forcing someone to marry against their will is a form of domestic abuse and is a criminal offence. If you think that you are at risk of a forced marriage or you think that someone else might be, there are many resources and helplines available to help:

Forced Marriage Unit: 020 7008 0151

Refuge: 0808 2000 247

The Halo Project: 01642 683 045

Karma Nirvana: 0800 5999 247

If you wish to apply for a Forced Marriage Protection Order, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Remember, help and protection is available; don’t suffer in silence.

Top Tips for Buying a Home during a Pandemic

C:\Users\User\Desktop\photo-1516156008625-3a9d6067fab5.jpg

During ‘normal’ times, buying a house is always a very involving process. It involves meeting lots of people, from sellers and advisors. The level of human interaction is quite high, which is a considerable problem in combating the Covid-19 pandemic. In this complicated Covid-19 times, you may be wondering whether buying a house is possible. Well, here is some help. Here are some tips that will help you buy a home and still ensure safety.

C:\Users\User\Desktop\photo-1592438893201-0e9e4d57d2cb.jpg

Find a Tech-Savvy Real Estate Agent

An excellent real estate agent is key to finding the ideal home for you. Apart from aligning with your needs, real estate agents are now required to be conversant with technology. This is because physical meetings expose you to risks. Therefore, the agent of your choice needs to be comfortable in hosting online meetings. This is through platforms such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, and many more. There also applications that allow you to receive and sign documents digitally. Such measures ensure a limit on time spent moving around and coming into contact with contaminated surfaces.

Consider Virtual Tours

House tours where there were cookies for everyone to nibble on are no longer viable. Visits carried out at the comfort of your couch are now the in-thing. Your realtor can easily send you pictures and videos of prospect properties. Since sellers can always edit videos, you may ask for a real-time virtual tour or a Face time with the realtor. This will ensure you get a feel of the house and make observations on imperfections without edits. The primary purpose of virtual tours is to eliminate some properties from a long list of choices. It is unnecessary to visit numerous houses where you expose yourself to more risks. Take your time and visit Movoto.com to narrow down your choices.

Remote House Inspection

Skipping a house inspection is one of the biggest mistakes you could make when buying. However hard the times maybe, you could still get a thorough home inspection, without necessarily putting yourself at risk. You can easily find agencies that conduct remote inspections by consulting with websites that show house listings. An independent review is the best option. The agency will take videos and pictures of things they find faulty in the house. This helps in getting a full report on the state of the residence. The findings reach you through a virtual meeting. Apart from that, after inspecting the house, the inspectors sanitize all surfaces before and after physically examining them.

Apply for Loan Pre-Approvals Online

Getting pre-approved for a loan ensures your finances for your house are okay. Before the pandemic, several lenders had transformed into a fully online system for efficiency. Thus, it should not be hard finding a loan officer who is conversant with an online order. The officer should provide learning materials, where you can learn everything about mortgage, the interest rates, and still track your loan progress. Shop around for loan officers, compare what they are offering and pick the best. Documents that the officer needs to assess, such as credit history, bank statements, or tax returns, are also available online. This ensures a paperless system with limited human contact.

Prepare Efficiently for the Showing

When you narrow down your options to a few houses, you could start physical visits. There are some details about the house that may not be detected by virtual tours. This includes things like smells. For those few house tours, you should prepare thoroughly. Carry your mask and sanitizer.

Additionally, insist on precautions such as filling of questionnaires to ascertain the health status of everyone involved in the process. You could also practice habits that reduce our exposure to the virus like avoiding touching your face. You could also arrange such that showings are minimal to avoid congestion. Such simple preparations reduce your likelihood of contracting the virus tremendously.

Remote House Closings

Previously, house closings involved shaking hands and handing over keys, among other activities, where both parties heavily interacted. Since there are documents that require signing, physical presence is necessary. However, both parties could observe social distancing by choosing a favorable location for the closing. This could be a conference room, with plenty of room for sufficient air circulation. Alternatively, the parties can occupy different rooms or use personal vehicles as an office. Signing often takes very little time, which reduces exposure time significantly.

Final Thoughts

As things slowly move back to normalcy, more buyers are exploring the market for homes. Therefore, there is an influx of buyers in the market. When you come across a good deal, move fast and close as you are up against a vast competition. Also, do not rush into sales to keep up with the market. Remember that your health is of paramount importance. Avoid unnecessary meetings and take all necessary precautions to protect yourself.

Curatorial Expert Paula Wallace on Art in the Home

Curatorial Expert Paula Wallace on Art in the Home

Paula Wallace’s life in art began as a child, when she watched with curiosity as her father hanged two small works of art that her mother had purchased at a thrift shop earlier that day. 

“They were matching prints,” Wallace says. “Two parrots, one red, the other a lemony yellow. In every house of ours, these birds always found a place to live.” The humble prints, she says, taught her that art needn’t be grand to hold meaning for a home. The parrots eventually came with her parents, Paul and May, down to Savannah in 1978, where they moved to help their daughter create a new art school.

Some 42 years later, Paula Wallace has made SCAD one of the largest and most comprehensive creative universities in the world, with campuses in the U.S. and Europe, a Permanent Collection featuring tens of thousands of historic and contemporary works of art (which can be found exhibited in its more than 100 rehabilitated historic properties, now home to classrooms, studios, and other learning spaces), and an in-house art sales and consultancy office called SCAD Art Sales, where the work of students, alumni, and faculty are available to the public. SCAD Art Sales has placed art work in films, TV shows, corporate headquarters and offices (such as Facebook and Netflix), and hotels and private homes around the world.

“SCAD wants to help homeowners find art they love and want in their homes!” Wallace says. “This is a win-win for us. It benefits the careers of our students and alumni, and it makes the world a more beautiful place.”

But how does someone who’s never purchased an original work of art begin to build a meaningful collection? Wallace is here to help.

“First, let’s talk about price,” she says. “You are going to spend money, but you have to remember: great art is like great furniture. It will outlast you.” Her rule of thumb is that you should spend about the same on art for a room as furniture for the room. If you plan on spending $3,000 on furnishings for the living room, then that’s probably a good target for spending on art, too.

And where do you find this art? Find a gallerist. “Every city has a few good galleries. Find them. Introduce yourself.” Think of it like shopping for books, she says. Most people will ask for a bookseller’s recommendations. “You can do the same with a gallerist. Ask what they love, what they like. They know artists.”

Homeowners, she says, shouldn’t worry about pretension or feeling like they need a degree in art history just to shop for art. But you don’t have to stop at galleries and swanky exhibitions, Wallace says. “Thrift shops and flea markets and antiques stores have great pieces, if you know where to look!” Another secret: Find out when the student shows are happening at local universities, where you can engage the artist in person and see if you connect. “Going to a student exhibition—where work is for sale—is a bit like going to an author’s book launch: It’s exciting. You’ll want to buy the work just because you feel like you know and understand it more intimately, from having met the artist in person.”

What kind of art is “you”, though? Think about what you love and need. Wallace suggests asking yourself: Do I like bright colors? Large, dramatic paintings? Do I prefer something with a sense of humor or a sense of meditative calm? What emotion do I want to evoke in the space?

“It’s more about liking what you love and loving what you like,” she says, “Don’t ask why too much. Why did you select that couch and not that one? Sometimes, you don’t need to know why! What moves you?”

Extroverts, she says, tend to prefer more dramatic works—bright of color and tone, animated in style, satirical, energetic, frenetic, even. Introverts prefer the quiet and profound. And yet: “The space dictates the work, so often.” A common area for parties and hosting might call for art work with more energy and movement. A sunroom or bedroom might need more reflective, meditative colors and themes. “You want your art to reflect your personality and moods—and the function of the spaces it will inhabit,” she says.

Placement is key. “Size matters,” Wallace says. “Large rooms need big art.” This is a common mistake among new collectors, selecting art that’s too small. “Art shrinks when you install it!” She recommends measuring walls before you start shopping and making a note of the sizes and square footage of areas, which will help gallerists keep you from choosing work that might not be suited to the room.

Finally, Paula Wallace suggests that buying art is like buying clothes—the kind you want to keep for a lifetime. Your art, like your wardrobe, announces who you are and what you expect from the world. It welcomes, invites, complements, pleases, warms, and illuminates. “It took me a lifetime to see that those two parrots were my mother and father: a perfect symbol of their love.”

That’s what great art does, according to Wallace. It points to something deeper and more beautiful than what you see. “That’s why every home needs it.”

Learn more about Paula Wallace of SCAD here: https://news.furman.edu/2019/12/09/paula-wallace-2019-interior-design-hall-of-fame/

5 Must-Have Online Gifts From HalyCard

5 Must-Have Online Gifts From HalyCard

With the world immersed in a pandemic, it’s never been more fitting to give your special someone an online gift card. More people are spending time online shopping or gaming than ever before, so nothing says I care better than a present they can use at any time. HalyCard is the perfect place to buy online gifts for your special someone, and they have items almost anyone would enjoy, gamers and grandmothers included.  Yet, since there’s so much to choose from, here are five must-have online gift ideas that will leave a lasting impression. 

1. iTunes 

One place media lovers go for content is iTunes. With media available to over 119 countries, iTunes is now the number one retailer of music in the world, topping Walmart back in 2015. This is why purchasing an iTunes card is the top pick for many HalyCard users. People can use their card for music, videos, or games, making it easy to please just about anyone.   

2. Netflix

You may not know this, but according to BroadbandSearch, Netflix has been around for a while. In fact, the company was founded in 1997, and netflix.com was launched just a year later. Now, with more than 100 million subscribers, Netflix has become the go-to spot for entertainment. In 2018 Netflix spent $12 billion in original content, making up about 80% of US views. Binge-watching TV series and movies have a whole new definition, and it makes sense that buying an online gift card from HalyCard for your sister, who is addicted to watching re-runs of Friends, is the perfect gift idea. 

3. PlayStation Network

PlayStation enchants gamers worldwide and has spent over 20 years building and shaping the gaming world you know today. The first PlayStation game to make this gaming system a world contender was Ridge Racer, which was released in 1994. The 3D graphics captivated users and made it an instant hit. In 2005 PlayStation 2 sold 100 million units making it the fastest-growing gaming console at that time. Now, millions of users are enthralled by PlayStation’s extraordinary technology and content. This makes buying a PlayStation Network card from HalyCard a great gift to keep in your back pocket and one your gaming friends will go nuts for. 

4. Google Play 

Google Play has more than 1 billion users and includes more than 1.5 million Android apps. According to Android Authority, in 2017, 70% of worldwide downloads came from Google Play. Worldwide, users spent over 17$ billion in Google Play apps, and since so many people choose this marketplace for content, buying an online gift card from HalyCard just makes sense. 

5. Amazon

Many of you may know that Amazon originally started in 1995 by selling books, but you may not know that they didn’t open their first storefront until 2015. Now, Amazon makes nearly $7 billion in revenue each year, selling practically anything. Amazon even launched their delivery service in 2016, and customers love their one to two-day shipping options. Amazon gift cards are the perfect addition to any present, which anyone can use at any time.  

Giving an online gift card is not only memorable but practical and functional. With a pandemic affecting people everywhere, online shopping and gaming are growing at unprecedented rates. At HalyCard, you can buy online cards that will suit most anyone. Some of their five must-have cards make sense and fit the new normal many people are learning to adjust to. It doesn’t matter if you’re more interested in media content or shipping products to your home, HalyCard is an excellent one-stop-shop for something that is bound to fit your needs.   

Creative Stay-at-Home Date Ideas from the Relish App

Creative Stay-at-Home Date Ideas from the Relish App

Ideas for great dates can be hard to come by. Once you settle into a routine, though, your relationship can suffer. That’s so much more true when it’s hard to get out. Relish, a leading relationship guidance app, works with you and your partner to identify your challenges and growth opportunities and help you thrive as a couple. After discussing how you both felt about your week, Relish might suggest room-by-room activities like these:

Dating in the Backyard

Head outside for a Star Date. Bring light refreshments if you like, binoculars or telescope if you have them, and a star chart or app if you want to get specific. The stars are still out there, and when you see them with someone you care about, somehow this little ol’ world seems a whole lot bigger.

New Ideas for the Bedroom

Sensory deprivation date. Turn out the lights, close the curtains, and maybe put a small light in the corner. Spend time getting to know each other with the other four senses, relaxing and letting yourself be surprised at a new way of seeing your partner.

Bathroom Date Ideas

Bubbles or battleships, tub time together can be both peaceful and ridiculously fun. You choose, but either way you’ll come out squeaky clean with prune-y fingers. Not a bad outcome for a date.

Dining Room Date Encounters

Casino night! You can just use a deck of cards or get one of those cheap casino games from the toy store, but either way, do it informally like Vegas or dress up for Monte Carlo. Bet with kisses, and may the winner take all!

Kitchen Intimacy

The joy and trouble with cooking together is that you’re intimate, but you’ve got a project to do and you don’t eat if you don’t finish it. That can help you have fun, get silly, or get intensely creative and produce a masterpiece. Will one of you be a Gordon Ramsay?

Living Room Togetherness

Haiku writing spree. Write to each other, with a bit of leeway in the 5-7-5 structure of this concise Japanese style. It can be a time of romance, picturing cherry blossoms and romance in the spring, or it might expand to creative fun and joy, each trying to outdo the other in crazy images and ideas. Add sushi if you like!

Relish is a relationship coaching app that takes an active role in couples’ lives. It asks for weekly updates and discusses your relationship with you, then offers ideas about next steps and new perspectives. It personalizes mindful advice to help people turn their investment in their relationship into a source of growth, joy, understanding, and rich experience. Engaging via an annual subscription, users of the app gain from the experience and insight of a team of diverse relationship counseling professionals who contribute a broad base of ideas and insights. The results are practical, personal, and often a lot of fun to implement!

The Latest Renaissance in Design Education – VR and AR at The Academy of Art University

The Latest Renaissance in Design Education – VR and AR at The Academy of Art University

Academy of Art University has been on the cutting edge of creative instruction since its inception in 1929. From then until now, a defining feature of the Academy’s ethos has been to employ active creatives as classroom and laboratory instructors. These working artists and creators bring up-to-date and even forward-thinking trends and developments directly from industry to the classroom. This affords Academy students unprecedented and unparalleled access to knowledge that is shaping various creative fields right now and for tomorrow.

It is no surprise, then, that Academy of Art University has been on the Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) front lines from its earliest days. Beginning in 2016 with a VR Summit hosted by the Schools of Communications & Media Technologies and Motion Pictures & Television, the Academy has since sought to incorporate these emerging technologies into various curriculum and facilities to reflect how creative industries are using them in the real world.

What is AR and VR?

Both AR and VR are advanced technologies that seek to expand the experience of the human senses in a given environment. With AR and/or VR technology, users can find themselves interacting with faraway or imaginary scenes or objects as if they actually existed in the user’s present location. Instead of projecting images before a user, AR and VR project the user into the realm of the images or scenes.

Augmented Reality (AR) adds digital elements to a live view that the user sees through a camera. A simple example is using Snapchat lenses on your smartphone or playing Pokémon Go and chasing images on the screen that are not really present.  

Conversely, Virtual Reality (VR) is a complete immersion experience that transports the user to another environment through the use of a VR viewing device. Wearing the device over the eyes effectively blanks out the user’s surrounding environment so that the new digital environment can be experienced to the fullest. For example, a user wearing a VR device can participate in a virtual village elders meeting by sitting between participants in a dirt-floored hut in Central Africa.

While early proponents of these technologies saw them as enhancements for the gaming world, others saw potential for other uses. Antonio Borja, Director of the School of Industrial Design at Academy of Art University, visualized how artists and other creative professionals could actually employ VR sketching as a pivotal tool for design in many industries.

In an early VR workshop for students, Borja shared, “I know at first this thing seems like a gimmick but it’s not. Because it allows you [to] think and experience your design in 3-D, true 3-D. It’s not like sketching on paper where you see a two-dimensional representation of your 3-D object. Here, you actually get to walk around it.”

AR & VR Education and Innovation at Academy of Art University

In an Industrial Design class early in the Academy’s venture into exploring AR and VR, Borja guided students in using a VR sketching software product called Gravity Sketch, pairing it with a commercial Oculus headset and handheld instruments. Students learned the basics of creating textures, surfaces, shapes, and more, including tools for ensuring exacting accuracy and symmetry in designs.

Design students quickly grasped the very real benefits of this incredible new tool as they created and manipulated various product designs in real time. In more traditional methods, product concepts are modeled with clay or other media to allow designers to see, feel, and analyze their designs from different perspectives. Using the VR tools, even the student designers could discover design problems and other ideas much faster than by creating a physical model.

Antonio Borja now conducts a more comprehensive class in VR sketching as part of the Digital Imaging 2 course (IND 363). He explains, “It’s a very valuable tool that will allow you to experience your designs in a way you haven’t been able to do until you design a prototype. It’s better to find these issues early on in the workflow and make it so that we have time to make these adjustments so that our final project is that much better.”

Normal Rockwell Museum VR Project

One stellar example of how Academy students are learning how to use AR and VR technology to produce valued projects is the Normal Rockwell Museum VR Project. This enormous undertaking took Normal Rockwell art pieces that were originally produced for and featured in The Saturday Evening Post in 1943 underscoring the four enduring ideals from President Franklin Roosevelt’s Annual Message to Congress in 1941.

Numerous pieces depicting Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms – Freedom of Worship, Freedom of Speech, Freedom from Fear, and Freedom from Want – were combined into a VR experience for a traveling museum exhibition. Users would wear an Oculus VR headset to interact with the exhibit, which opened in May 2018 at the New York Historical Society before touring the United States and France, and then returning to the Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts in Fall 2020.

A diverse team of 24 developers from the Academy School of Game DevelopmentSchools of Animation & Visual EffectsSchool of IllustrationMusic Production & Sound Design for Visual Media, and Web Design & New Media worked a full four semesters to complete the project. It included various testing phases that involved students as well as senior citizens from the Institute of Aging. The project was to be designed so that users from age 7 to 70 could enjoy the experience.

Phil Kauffold, technical lead for the Academy’s School of Game Development (GAM) and project lead for the Rockwell exhibit, said, “We have to design for the young kid who knows the language of video games and understand this stuff. But also, we have to design for somebody [who] is older [and] doesn’t have that intuitive understanding of what we think of as the normal visual language.”

As a result, “Enduring Ideals: Rockwell, Roosevelt and the Four Freedoms” has been a resounding success, even being presented at the US Capital building to members of Congress during 2019.

Academy VR Featured on “California by Design” TV Show

Recently, advanced uses of VR technology in industrial design at the Academy was showcased on the TV series “California by Design.” In each of the six shows, a judging panel, which includes Tom Matano, Executive Director for the Academy School of Industrial Design, chooses finalist creations that will compete to be named the top innovation of the year.

Episode three, which aired on July 11, 2020, featured AURA, a student project led by IND student Santiago Bastidas. The featurette (watch 7:20 – 10:07) highlights how the Academy is incorporating VR technologies into the design process to reflect current industry uses in the real world. AURA is an automobile design project created for PSA Peugeot Citroën Group as part of a corporate sponsorship with the Academy.

Bastidas shared that he and his team used VR technology to design a new automobile that “extends users’ experience beyond a physical journey.” He went on to say, “With AURA, we wanted to create not only this spatial journey but to target a much deeper journey. We broaden the interactions for a much more humanistic final journey.”

In episode three of California by Design, the host, Dan Hardin, is guided through how Bastidas and his team used a VR headset and software to actually design their creation in 3-D. He is also able to experience the 3-D model of the futuristic auto itself and even create his own, rather rough, design on camera, obviously delighting in the experience.

Hardin exclaims at once point, “This is really fun, isn’t it? Just try to get this off my head now!” The Academy students in the Industrial Design program use Gravity Sketch for Virtual Reality Sketching and Autodesk VRED Pro for Virtual Visualization.

Antonio Borja, Director for School of Industrial Design explains “Incorporating virtual reality technology in the design process enables designers to execute evaluations in a shorter timeframe and find potential flaws or issues with their designs earlier in the process. This helps streamline entire projects and allows more time for making any necessary adjustments before completion, resulting in higher quality designs overall.”

Academy of Art University – Revolutionizing Arts Education

Art and creativity are often viewed as abstract concepts that are expressed on a canvas or through music. While these means of expression are valid and valued, creativity extends into many industries that produce helpful devices and objects that improve our quality of life. Safer, more fulfilling means of transportation, better medical devices, and other important discoveries all incorporate creative technologies in their development.

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality are finding traction in more industries as time goes on, leading to better products with streamlined processes for development and testing. Academy of Art University is a top arts education institution that offers students the chance to experience these cutting-edge technologies as they are currently being used in today’s vital industries.

Interested prospective students can obtain more information by following the links in this article or by calling the Academy Admissions Department at 415-274-2222.

Read more about other Academy of Art University workshops

Chicago’s Beal Properties’ Guide to Off-Campus Student Housing

Chicago’s Beal Properties’ Guide to Off-Campus Student Housing

Merely one year ago, college students were enjoying the throes of summer break, and casually considering their plans for a seamless fall return. From declaring housemates based on inseparable bonds already formed, to saving up cash for an upgraded sofa, figuring out off-campus housing plans was now a nostalgically straightforward process. However, with the unprecedented global COVID-19 pandemic, the realm of college life, and real estate, dramatically changed. From cancelled courses to limited apartment showings, students’ lives were impacted vastly. Now, as this year’s summer break brings uncertainty, change, and a completely new “normal” for the imminently upcoming school year, students should take the time to solidify their housing plans for the upcoming fall semester early. With so many changes, intricacies, and evolving protocols to consider, Chicago staple in real estate development and management, Beal Properties, has provided tips for students to successfully, safely, and expertly secure housing.

Check Out Options Early

With limited inventory, and more people staying put, options for students may be somewhat limited upon the beginning of the upcoming semester. For students looking to pursue off-campus apartment living, competing with the entire local neighborhood population means that the generally witnessed market trend of limited inventory will potentially impact their choices. Beal Properties has been providing countless tenants with a multitude of apartment options spread amongst the company’s expansive 100 building portfolio, offering studio to three bedroom apartments within many of Chicago’s most sought-after neighborhoods. With varying price ranges, a commitment to tenant satisfaction, and a forward-thinking business model, Beal Properties has long been a staple for students looking for a positive apartment living experience. The professionals at Beal Properties advise students to be aware of rising demand for apartment dwelling coupled with limited inventory, and encourage students to act early.

Embrace Tech

For out-of-state students, virtually touring potential apartments, and communicating digitally with landlords and roommates may have already been a commonplace standard. Conversely, most other students may have been used to physically touring potential apartments, meeting with Property Managers, and signing leases at the local pub. With social distancing continuing to dictate behavior, and rapidly changing state regulations regarding social interaction, Beal Properties encourages students to embrace technology during their apartment search process. While Beal has already adapted and implemented technology to innovate various services, from creating a fully-functional tenant portal, to servicing client communication online, the company has ramped up “virtual tour” services. By allowing prospective tenants, including students, to virtually tour their properties, Beal Properties is safely allowing prospective tenants to ensure that properties meet their needs, and providing tenants with the opportunity to receive seamless service in light of the continued changes brought on by the Coronavirus pandemic. 

In addition to these forward-thinking virtual tour options, many property management companies, including Beal Properties, are offering tenants contactless applications via various virtual resources, contactless or limited contact move-in procedures, and other digitally enhanced procedures designed to maintain the safety of all parties during this unprecedented time. For students hesitant to pursue the traditionally in-person act of apartment searching, Beal Properties reminds students of the seamless implementation of technology that renders this process now digitally enabled. 

Consider Neighborhoods, Transportation, & Lifestyle

For students at the University of Chicago, DePaul, Loyola, IIT, Chicago State, or any of the other higher learning campuses within the vicinity of the city, ease of commute is an integral consideration in choosing the perfect apartment. The experts at Beal Properties point out that an easy access to the ‘L’, bus routes, bike routes, and highways can create a seamless experience for busy students. Between busy class schedules, rotating study groups, part-time jobs, and lifestyle activities, students need to have access to needed locations without too much hassle. Without such ease of access, students are more likely to forgo “non-essential” classes, seminars, and other otherwise positive opportunities. 

With many students, and professionals alike, choosing to forgo automobile ownership within bustling cities like Chicago, renters’ preferences are steering toward housing in convenient proximity to public transportation. For Beal Properties, consideration of students who rely on public infrastructure to service their needs is a factor for determining adding properties to the company’s thriving portfolio. Whether in Lakeview, Wrigleyville, Lincoln Park, or any other coveted Chicagoland neighborhood, the majority of Beal Properties’ complexes are conveniently located within walking range to trains, subway stations, bus routes, and bike paths. For students, this provides an excellent opportunity to hop on the bus to their University, and retain a convenient commute.

In addition to the importance of considering proximity to school, Beal Properties professionals encourage students to consider neighborhoods as a whole, looking for particular “live-work-play” microenvironments that suit their unique needs. For example, active students may prefer neighborhoods with robust gym options, hiking trails, dedicated bike lanes, and community pools. Conversely, social students may prefer hyper-local communities nestled between restaurants, bars, and trendy hotspots. Since student housing is essentially home, choosing a neighborhood that is conducive to needs, desires, and lifestyle will create an easy transition for students leaving their hometown for the first time.

Consider Budgets

For students whose financial status has been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether through the loss of part-time work, or otherwise, budgeting is instrumental in ensuring successful living arrangements throughout the year. By creating a realistic budget for groceries, rent, essentials, and “fun” expenditures, students can stave off the potential panic of having limited work opportunities, and can safely determine which apartments can fit their needs. Recognizing the need to offer modern apartment dwellings at varying price points, the experts at Beal Properties maintain a diverse portfolio of studio apartments perfect for singular students, or 1, 2, and 3 bedroom options that are suitable for roommates who will split costs. The company encourages students to create budgets prior to beginning their apartment search, and sticking to only considering dwelling options that fall within the pre-set budgets.

While the landscape for students has certainly changed in every aspect as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, innovative companies like Beal Properties are implementing proactive measures to ensure that the apartment hunt is seamless, easy, and direct during this unprecedented time. By following a few simple pivots, students can ensure a safe, successful, and positive return to the fall semester.

Want to stay connected with Beal? Follow them on Instagram!

Why is Access to Healthy Foods Important?

Why is Access to Healthy Foods Important?

Healthy foods provide us with the nutrition our bodies need. Without this nutrition, our bodies break down leading to future health issues.

For some of us, eating healthy food is not much of an issue. For others, it can be a matter of life and death.

If you look in your grocery stores, you may notice that healthy foods are often more expensive than “not as healthy” food products. When you compare organic to non-organic, organic will always have a higher price tag. Lower fats and non-fat foods also tend to be more expensive than foods with a high fat content.

Because healthy foods are more expensive, lower income people may not be able to afford them. As a result, grocery stores in lower income neighborhoods may not carry these foods at all.

But the problems don’t stop there.

Data from 2012-2013 shows that the average person lived 2.19 miles from a supermarket. While that is not very far for those who have a car, it is impossible to walk this distance with a week’s worth of groceries, and carrying them on public transportation isn’t much easier.

Then there are the food deserts. Food deserts are areas where food resources are limited which is often the case in low income areas. As a result, convenience stores and small food markets may be the only way for these people to access food. Unfortunately, these smaller businesses tend not to offer a lot of healthy food options.

Why is Access to Healthy Foods Important?

If you are wondering, why is access to healthy foods important, read on to find out.

Those who do not have access to healthy foods are likely to experience health problems in the future. Diabetes and obesity are two health issues that are quite common in low-income neighborhoods where people do not have access to the healthy foods they need.

What is Being Done?

Fortunately, the issue of a lack of access to healthy foods has not gone unnoticed. As a result, several strategies have been implemented to “improve diets by altering food environments.” For instance, Supplemental Nutrition Access Programs have helped low income individuals afford the healthy food they need.

Other strategies include opening supermarkets in underserved neighborhoods, lowering the prices of healthy foods and limiting the number of fast food restaurants in communities.

It Starts with You

Healthy foods are important but to really make sure you are getting the nutrition you need, supplements are recommended.

Garden of Life is a brand that is dedicated to creating a world where obesity and diabetes are a thing of the past. They manufacture whole foods nutritional supplements that they believe will help make that dream a reality. Products like their Omega 3 Fish Oil, their Woman’s Once Daily, and their FucoThin Fat Burner are just some Garden of Life products designed to boost health and wellness.

The question is not really, “Why is access to healthy foods important?” Rather, it’s “What do we need to do to make healthy foods more accessible?” Fortunately, programs are underway to help people get the nutritious foods they need. Hopefully this will make a change in promoting better health throughout the world.

Interactive and Social Apps to Get You Through the Isolation of Quarantine

Interactive and Social Apps to Get You Through the Isolation of Quarantine

Do you find yourself nostalgically daydreaming of the camaraderie of your favorite Spin class? Have you started talking to your houseplants as though they were newly created connections made naturally on 80’s night at your local bar? Do you long to fill your afternoons learning a new craft, exacerbated by the desire to share your fledgling successes with like-minded individuals? With boredom, loneliness, isolation, and lack of interpersonal communication plaguing countless individuals throughout quarantine and social distancing measures, you are not alone! To offset these growing feelings of isolation and distance, consider downloading these interactive and social apps to get you moving, sharing, and connecting.

Fitplan

Fitplan: Home Workouts and Gym Training - Apps on Google Play

Though there are multiple apps available on the market for fitness junkies looking to take their workout game digital, or novices looking to embark on a fitness journey during quarantine, Fitplan is highly interactive, social, and communicative. If you’re looking for fitness inspiration, teamwork and camaraderie, and a social community of health conscious members, Fitplan is the app to kickstart your virtual fitness journey in a manner most consistent with in-person group fitness clubs. You can choose from hundreds of bespoke fitness plans, with new home workout plans released each week. Additionally, for personalized care and attention, you can receive one on one instruction from top personal trainers. With tools and markers designed to track progress, you can reach milestones and achieve personal goals easily, sharing your success with a community of over 3 million Fitplan members.

With ample gym workouts available, Fitplan will transition with your evolving needs and preferences as social distancing guidelines change, rendering this app a long-term wellness must-have. If you’re starting out with your first workout plan, and don’t know where to begin, the app features a simple series of questions that help to create a bespoke workout plan to meet your needs, eliminating any guess work that may leave you feeling left out, or otherwise unmotivated. As a bonus, the app integrates with Apple’s Health app to track comprehensive data, making it easier than ever to keep track of your health, progress, and goals.

LinkedIn Learning

File:LinkedIn logo initials.png - Wikimedia Commons

If the Coronavirus pandemic, and subsequent job insecurity, has left you scrambling to secure occupational stability in the future, look to LinkedIn Learning to develop crucial skills that will help you become proficient in in-demand fields. With lessons taught by industry experts, the app provides courses in leadership, marketing, IT, web design, and after growing industries. You can explore a multitude of courses, work at your own pace, and even share course completion certificates with your network. Whether you’re considering a complete career overhaul, or want to leverage newly perfected skills to become a more competitive candidate for promotion, LinkedIn Learning can provide the infrastructure needed to reach these goals.

As LinkedIn is inherently social in nature, and relies on the concept of digital networking for occupational success, the Learning app features robust communication tools to champion a community spirit, bolster success, and share tips with other learners. Through the app’s “Q & A” section, featured on every course, you can ask pertinent questions to the community, and the course’s instructor. This function champions interactive communication, often resulting in successful social learning experiences.

Zynn

Zynn (@ZynnApp) | Twitter

This exciting new short-video sharing app is the ultimate community-building tool, encouraging artistic creators to make entertaining video snippets across a variety of categories, and serving up diverse content for all users. If you’re yearning for creative expression and community integration, but are sick of platforms that only champion influencers, and creators with a certain number of followers, Zynn is the innovative app for you. Zynn’s groundbreaking suggestion algorithm creates an equal opportunity for all videos to be seen, regardless of a creator’s follower count, profile characteristics, or popularity. This leads to more inclusive and diverse content being readily visible on Zynn, perfect for users who want to discover interesting content, and be seen as their authentic selves.

With purposeful design that allows for swift sharing of content, viewing of creator profiles, and interaction, the social nature of Zynn is expertly manifested in the app’s design. If you’ve always wanted to create professional quality videos, Zynn has easy-to-use customization tools to transform everyday videos into works of art. With extensive editing capabilities, a soundtrack creator, and the ability to add stickers and magic effects to videos, you can express your personality freely with Zynn. With a constantly growing community of loyal users, Zynn’s commitment to expression, equality, and diversity makes this app truly innovative, forward-thinking, and social.

DIY.org Creative Challenges

DIY.org (@DIY) | Twitter

With more time at your disposal, you may be considering learning a new craft, perfecting a creative skill, or embarking on a quest to ultimately become a skilled photographer. From activities created to keep little minds busy, to learning creative occupational skills, DIY.org is home to thousands of creative challenges to spark creation, innovation, and artistic release. From how-to videos to step-by-step tutorials in art, chemistry, camping, singing, sewing, and a myriad of other topics, DIY.org encourages you to try something new.

Interactive and social, the child-safe community allows you to post your creations, comment on users’ ventures, and discuss the outcomes of projects in a community setting. Tracking your growing skill sets and endeavors, the app allows you to create a bespoke profile, which showcases your creative accomplishments to date. Viewing the accomplishments of community members can be inspirational, and motivate you to get creative, while celebrating the growing skills of like-minded individuals.

As you navigate these unprecedented times, participating in digitally based social endeavors can successfully alleviate feelings of isolation, negativity, boredom, and loneliness. While traditional in-person networking and interactions may be limited for the time being, there are various digitally based alternatives for anyone looking to remain connected, socially engaged, entertained, and motivated. From apps dedicated to personal wellness and physical fitness, to social media platforms dedicated to showcasing diverse content, leading interactive and social apps can get you through quarantine without losing a sense of community, authenticity, and self-expression.

4 things you can do in your backyard to keep yourself entertained during the quarantine

4 things you can do in your backyard to keep yourself entertained during the quarantine

The pandemic is impacting individuals differently. One thing is for sure though, that it’s still taking some getting used to. With so many rules and regulations to pay attention to, it’s all enough to make you lose your mind but staying at home is by far the most effective way to flatten the curve.

Although it’s essential, we also acknowledge that being stuck at home might mean that you are more restless, tense, and bored than you have been for a while. And if you have kids, schools may be out for the foreseeable future, which means that there are a lot more hours in between the day to fill up that should be used for entertaining everyone in the household. 

As you probably already know, entertaining kids is no small feat; it’s certainly not for the faint of heart. Sure, you could always let them watch hours of TV because it will buy you a little peace and quiet when you need it. However, giving your kids unlimited screen time is no way to spend time during this quarantine period.

With most spaces only opening up gradually, you’ll find that a lot of the playgrounds, community spaces, and stores that you once loved are still closed. Lucky for you, there are still lots of things that you can do when it comes to keeping yourself and your kids entertained during the quarantine. To prevent you from going stir crazy, here are things that you can do- and you don’t even have to leave your backyard to enjoy them:

1) Set up and backyard ping pong tournament

If you are still doing the responsible thing and staying at home as much as possible, it only makes sense that you want to make full use of your side, front, or back yard. One of the simplest things that you can do outdoors is to organize some lawn games such as a ping pong tournament.

Since you’ll be hosting a game at home, there’s no need to follow all the rules of ping pong. You can have a totally reasonable game with a few paddles, a ping pong table, and a few participants. If you don’t have a ping pong table, simply grab your dining table and create some boundaries and markings.

2) Throw an impromptu Karaoke session

If you are a shower singer or just love music in general, an impromptu Karaoke session can be a great way to spend time with your loved ones in the backyard. When the sun goes down, there is absolutely no reason why the party has to stop. Rather, it’s an opportunity to turn things up with an outdoor Karaoke session.

To throw a successful outdoor session, ensure that you keep your guest list tight; try not to invite more than 10 attendees. If you are thinking about how you can host more people, consider making Karaoke night a weekly thing, that way you will be able to host a different group each time without overcrowding.

If you don’t have enough supplies, request your guests to kindly bring their own blankets or chairs. If there are outsiders that aren’t part of the household, ensure to layout your blankets in the appropriate six feet distance. And don’t forget the hand sanitizer.

You will also need some basic equipment such as a portable projector, a projector screen and some speakers. Make the space as comfortable as possible so that your guests can relax and have fun. Consider setting up some walkway lights or offer your guests inexpensive flashlights to prevent them from accidentally stepping on or tripping over each other.

3) Create a reading nook outdoors

You now have more time than ever to complete those unfinished DIY projects that you have always wanted to try. One of them should be creating an outdoor reading nook where you can retreat to in the quiet of the night or just before sunset to read a book or a magazine.

Don’t have access to a whole ton of books? No problem. Simply get yourself a Kindle and you can read anywhere, anytime. What’s so great about reading on Kindle is that you can read in your backyard without worrying about illumination. Kindles are also mostly waterproof and you can store all your favorite reads and podcasts without worrying about space.

4) Set up an outdoor movie party

Netflix and chilling is great and all, but sometimes you just need to shake things up, which is where an outdoor movie party comes in. With a few supplies and a simple, non-frilly setup, you can create an outdoor theater to beat all outdoor theaters in no time.

First and foremost, you will need to select an outdoor spot with access to electrical outlets. You can’t watch a movie without power, now can you? Also, make sure that the location that you select is quite and where headlights, house lights from nearby houses, or street lights will not make viewing hard.

You also need a retractable projector screen. However, if you cannot afford to buy one straight away, there are plenty of DIY options to try. You will also need a projector, as well as surround sound (regular computer speakers will also work just as fine). Set everything up, grab some popcorn, an outdoor blanket, warm drinks and you’ll be good to go.

Final Thoughts

You may not have as many options as you once did to eat, drink, and get out into the world as you once did pre-quarantine. However, there are still plenty of things that you can try to keep yourself entertained.

Like most people that have been forced to self-isolate or quarantine owing to the coronavirus pandemic, the best thing that you can do is look for alternative ways to make the best of your situation. If you look around, you’ll find that you can do a lot more with the little that you have and still be able to stay safe and sane.

The good news for you is that these tips that we’ve listed above will definitely keep you occupied until the next time you will be able to go out dancing, catch a movie, check out a new restaurant or simply just hug the friends that you miss.